Sometimes I see an image of a dress and I immediately fall in love with it. Those are the dresses I keep going back to, looking at the details and day dreaming of making it. It doesn’t happen too often, but recently I found 3 pieces I completely adore.
The first one is this 1880’s dress from the Met:
Every time I think that by now, I should have seen every dress in the metropolitan, an image pops up to prove me wrong. The great thing about the items in this collection is that they’re generally very well photographed. High-quality photos, and not just from one angle, which always annoys me because for so many (especially bustle) dresses the back is at least as relevant as the front and they’re not always symmetrical.
What struck me about this item was firstly the top. The lace at the top part and the silk part shaped almost like a corset is something I haven’t seen before. Other than that, I love the lace at the bottom. The color of the silk and the pattern on the fabric are things I like a little less, but you never know if it hasn’t colored with age.
When I went looking for more pictures, I found this:
This photo is amazing, it clearly shows how the bodice was realized, with two separate layers! It’s always great to see images of the construction of dresses, because it demystifies how they were made. This image also shows that the silk of the dress was originally more pink than now! I vastly prefer the more pinkish hue to the more brownish it has become.
Aside from the bodice, which I love, the back and bustle of this dress are amazing:
Look at the v-line at the back of the bodice, and that train! I’m still not crazy about the feather pattern, but the lace is beautiful.
I’d love to recreate this dress, but it would be a huge challenge. I’ve never made any bustle skirt, let alone one this complex. Moreover, that bodice is so particular that any pattern would be greatly adapted for it to look like this. And then there’s the issue of fabric, which would be very expensive. Silk is never cheap, and the only nice lace you can find is usually in the bridal-section of fabric stores. High-quality, and definitely not cheap. Still, it’s a dream, and this design might be worth the cost, so who knows.
The other two dresses I stumbled on are both from paintings. The first one is this lovely regency-scene:
Portrait of the Elisabeth, Amalie and Maximiliane of Bavaria (Joseph Karl Stieler)
The color of these dresses is just so lovely. What makes these amazing though, is probably also the scene, the fact that there’s two identical dresses for identical girls. Any recreation wouldn’t capture it fully, but the painting is definitely a favorite.
From the other painting, I first saw a close-up of the dress.
I always love cut-outs on bodices, so that in combination with all the lace and the deep brown of the rest of the dress made me love it instantly. I did some research, and found out it was actually a portrait of Marie-Antoinette with her children.
I’ve never made anything 18th century before and this is a dress which would require a huge amount of trimming, but it will definitely go onto my list of eye-candy!